We’re very excited to introduce you to our first batch of ambassadors! For the past two months we have been looking for creative, talented, and adventurous folks to add to our team and so far we’ve found five fantastic additions. We know these guys are really great, but we wanted to give you the chance to get to know them as well. We invite you to meet our team!
Chase and Charla: This dynamic duo is currently living in Bangkok, tackling the big city one skytrain stop at a time.
Ben: A lover of food, Ben has been stationed in Australia but is on the move to S.E.A.
Amy: This travel writer currently calls Chiang Mai, Thailand home and is loving the adventures that each day brings.
Eliza: Our first ambassador, an English teacher in Isaan, Thailand. If you missed it before, you can get to know her by reading her previously posted interview.
Plus, there is still space for you! We are currently looking for even more nomads to add to our group, so if you are interested get those applications in!
For you where is home and can you briefly describe your daily life there?
Ben: Home at the moment is Sydney, Australia. My wife, Jess & I have been living here since last December. It’s home away from home for me as my parents emigrated here around five years ago. We took the opportunity to use our Working Holiday Visas and save some more money whilst travelling and experiencing a new lifestyle at the same time. Daily life at the moment is pretty cool as our work contracts are finished and we’re enjoying the city beach culture that Sydney is so famous for. Looking forward to getting back to Asia though!
Amy: I’m from Nottingham in England, but I’ve lived in Chiang Mai with my fiancé Andy for just over one year. I teach English to excitable Thai teenagers. It’s great! One of the best things about my teaching job is that I get a lot of (paid!) time off, which means that I have lots of time to explore Thailand. We go somewhere new on our motorbike most weekends. When I’m not teaching or exploring, I hang out in cafes and write. Can I do a plug? Yes? Fantastic – check out my blog!
Chase: When I’m not traveling, my home is Alaska. During the summertime the days consist of hiking, camping and enjoying the 24-hour sunshine, while in the winter the days are full of snowboarding, brewing beer, and staying up late to watch the Aurora Borealis.
Charla: “Home” is becoming such a difficult question! I’ve lived all over the place, but now my American home would be Tallahassee, Florida, and my daily life there was that of a student and teacher—go to classes during the day, go running, do yoga, and spend time with friends at the local watering holes at night.
Where have you gone backpacking?
Ben: My first proper trip was interrailing in Europe in 2005, travelling through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, & France. Since then I’ve been to Asia several times and backpacked in Australia & India. I also went to LA on one ill fated trip where I lost my tickets to Mexico and ended up heading home instead, but that’s another story.
Amy: I’ve backpacked around India, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia. After Uni I came straight to Thailand with my best mate Rosie, and we lived for 5 months in Isaan (Thailand’s poorer Eastern region). After that I went back to England to fetch my fiancé and persuaded him to live in Chiang Mai with me, and we’ve been here ever since! We’ve travelled around Thailand a lot.
Amy. Our enthusiastic Chiang Mai resident.
Chase: I’ve been backpacking around Australia, Central & South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia; but for some reason I keep coming back to Southeast Asia!
Charla: Most of my backpacking has been in Southeast Asia, but I also spent a few months backpacking around Europe.
What is one of the most important things you have learned while on the road?
Ben: That as a product of a stable, wealthy country I’ve got it good. That I should always be thankful of opportunities and things that are often taken for granted. Also, that I’m lucky to be in a position to go to new countries & continents when many people will never travel further than the province they are born in.
Amy: You usually don’t need fancy hi-tech sandals – flip flops are your best friend. Also, take your time! It’s better to get to know a place and then move on rather than trying to fit in every single place into one trip. If you want to have great experiences, make them happen – sitting in the hostel common area or your hotel room all day probably won’t create the kind of memories you want from travelling. Get out there!
Chase: Be flexible, be ready for anything, and no matter where you are make sure you talk to the locals.
Chase. Lover of fine microbrews and anything that says adventure.
Charla: It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
If you had to recommend one place in S.E.A for someone to head tomorrow where would it be?
Ben: I love the madness of Hanoi and the sedentary pace of life in Luang Prabang. They both have incredible food, too. I would be happy to wake up in either tomorrow.
Amy: My favourite place ever is Koh Kood in Thailand, which is a small tropical island near Koh Chang. You can swim in natural waterfall pools, kayak on rivers and in the sea, find deserted beaches and explore the whole island on a motorbike. Can I please recommend one more place? Hampi in India – it’s a magical place rich with history and filled with explorable temple ruins.
Chase: Everyone should definitely go to Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is full of museums and enough fascinating tradition to keep culture vultures entertained; it lures nature lovers by being the springboard for both the northern mountainous region of Sapa as well as the amazingly beautiful coastal region of Ha Long Bay; and best of all, it is the home of bia hai, freshly brewed beer that costs only .25 cents per glass to keep everyone happy!
Charla: Lonely Beach, Koh Chang! Go on now!
Charla. This beach girl has decided to settle down in Bangkok for her second stint in S.E.A.
For you why has travel become an addiction?
Ben: The more you see, the less you know. It’s such an eye opening adventurous experience to travel and if i’m not reading travel literature, i’m looking at guidebooks or searching the internet for distant shores & reading blogs or checking out Vimeo about places I want to go. I’m fairly obsessed.
Amy: I’ve always wanted to explore other places. As a kid I wanted my life to be like the Swiss Family Robinson movie (I kinda still do). I’ve been able to experience some amazing, inspiring things while travelling and I’ve fallen in love with the feeling of happiness and freedom that travel gives.
Chase: Ever since I was young I couldn’t sit still long, and as I’ve gotten older my playground has continuously grown to encompass the globe.
Charla: I love trying new things and meeting new people. I also have a really hard time with sitting still!
Where is the funniest place you have ever fallen asleep (in S.E.A)?
Ben: Nothing really funny to report, I can sleep pretty much anywhere though and have been known to sleep through take off & landing on flights.
Amy: A Thai hill tribe house on stilts above a pen of water buffalo and chickens after drinking a bit too much Sangsom with traveller friends and the locals.
Chase: The first time I ever took an overnight bus solo I fell asleep spooning with the random (and startled) Thai woman in the seat next to me.
Charla: Naga Bar on Koh Samet. The bungalows are up a hill, and there may have been a time or two when I couldn’t be bothered… some beautiful sunrises from there!
What is the best book to pack in your rucksack?
Ben: I usually pack a classic, I’ve read Nineteen Eighty Four several times on trips. I tend to smash through books, and will pick up pretty much anything that’s in English in hostels or swap shops. I’m really enjoying Paul Theroux & Hunter. S Thompson at the moment.
Amy: A Kindle! If you don’t have one, then a book that you really love because they’re the best companions for long journeys. I’m working my way through Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s books and I keep re-reading Cloud Atlas.
Chase: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, which I originally read in Livingston, Guatemala. It is an easy read, and is a hilarious book that also makes you think about the world; importantly, it is also a hefty enough book that it can get you through the longest flights without running out of material to read.
Charla: Right now I’m toting around Meditations from the Mat, a book about yoga and life, but one of my favorite travel books (that’s also conveniently small-sized) is Yoko Tawada’s Where Europe Begins.
What does your future hold?
Ben: Who knows! I’m trying to focus my future towards skill sets that can keep me in a travelling lifestyle, so that I don’t always have to keep heading home to top up the travel fund.
Amy: I have no concrete plans, only dreams that are often changing! I’d like to live in Chiang Mai for a while longer, travel around Asia, Europe and New Zealand, drive around America, become an awesome writer and photographer, have a beautiful outdoor wedding in the misty Northern Thai countryside and one day have a baby or two!
Amy enjoys a little bit of comfort from home!
Chase: One day I might get a job that actually utilizes my college degree!
Charla: I’m planning to spend another year or so in S.E.A. and then maybe grad school (eek!).
What is your favorite quote?
Ben: One quote that always makes me smile is from Bill Bryson “I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything“ It makes me think of being in India and not having a clue about anything.
Amy: “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson. I chose this one because I truly believe you appreciate the good things in life more when you travel.
Chase: “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” – United States President Lyndon B. Johnson
Charla: “If nothing goes wrong, everything has gone wrong.” – The Adventurists, the crazy British group that organizes events like the Mongol Rally.
What things from home, try as you might not to, do you still crave?
Ben: Whenever i’m in Asia I always crave real bread & cheese.
Amy: Cheap red wine, cheese and sleeping under a duvet every night – it’s often too hot for one here in Thailand!
Chase: Every single day in Bangkok I crave Alaska’s snow and cold temperatures. My ideal weather is 20°F (-6.6°C) with a light snowfall.
Charla: Mac and cheese!!
What is your best money saving budget tip for other backpackers?
Ben: Eat streetfood. It’s cheap its tasty and generally authentic. If it’s good enough for locals, it’s good enough for you. Step away from the pizza.
Amy: Research online to get your money’s worth. Read other people’s reviews and blogs before booking trips and hotel stays – probably with a bit of work you can find something just as good for a cheaper price by reading about what other people have done.
Chase: Don’t drink alcohol. Hahaha, no, who am I fooling? Really, the best money-saving tip is to skip the Western food whenever you can.
Charla: Eat like a local while you’re in Southeast Asia! You’ll easily save enough for the night’s accommodation if you trade in the pizza and burgers for curry and rice.
Have there been any ways in which you have surprised yourself?
Ben: India surprised me in just about every way possible. The thing that surprised me the most was my patience and just relaxing in otherwise hectic, or stressful situations. Personal space is a bit of a rarity and selling tactics can be quite aggressive. Having said that, it’s without question the most interesting country I’ve travelled to and would recommend everybody to visit.
Amy: Absolutely! I thought I was pretty crap with kids before I taught in Thailand, but it turns out I’m actually quite good with them. I learnt how to drive a motorbike in the Chiang Mai countryside and now don’t think twice about zooming around mountain roads on two wheels.
Chase: In today’s world, our major limitations are ourselves. If we stop holding ourselves back, we can do almost anything.
Charla: I’ve eaten and drunk things I never thought I would try—sketchy smoked fish out of the Volga river, Kazakh fermented horse’s milk, whiskey from scorpion- or snake-stuffed bottles, the list goes on…